So, as I mentioned quite a few blogs back, we have fostered a farm bunny forever – He came to ready to chill- ok so not really. He and I had a bit of a tumultuous start. He would straight up growl at me when I cleaned his hutch in the morning.
So, we called him Thunderbun and I got down to learning about the basics of bunny care.
So, Thunderbun is an Angora and Silver Fox mix. He is about 5 or 6 years old and a very large bunbun. Since he is a large rabbit, he requires a good size hutch. Bunnies being so variant in size, its a little hard to come up with a one size fits all living situation.
For now we have him hanging with our alpacas in his own homemade hutch that is 2 and half feet by 4 feet by 2 feet deep. Because of this, we know we do not have him in an ideal sized hutch, but he came to us so late in the season that we didn’t have a ton of time to outfit him with anything more appropriate(trust me, we feel awful about this – there are definite plans in the spring to give him a nice yard this spring.). The ideal size for a hutch is 12 square feet (we have him in 10), and the ideal size for a exercise yard is 32 square feet( he has no yard currently as it is a tundra outside in our neck of the woods.)
Note: As a farmer, I am a huge proponent of the deep litter method for outdoor farm animals. If it doesn’t smell like ammonia, its working. Not only to help heat their living area thru the winter, but the compost the manure and the bedding. Its a win win in my book. We’ve used deep little method for our chickens since the beginning and have never had a problem (knockonwood) This being said, it does require some maintenance, like turning it over, adding more bedding, and also the ability to admit if its NOT working and cleaning everything out and starting new.
Bunnies are ruminants, so they require lots of yummy hay to eat all day long. In fact that should be 80 to 90% of their daily food. It keeps their guts healthy and working – also the constant chewing helps keep their teeth trimmed. Along with constant access to fresh water that I change everyday, we also make sure to give him access to a 1/4 cup high quality bunny pellet with bunny herbs mixed in twice a day in the winter to help him keep warm. We do give him some treats- not a whole lot of anything at any one time tho because I don’t want to upset his digestion. So a single strawberry, or a small carrot stick. He really loves blueberries and leafy greens.
Some treats are labeled for rabbits – they are not safe for rabbits. Please do not feed your rabbit Yogurt drops, Cookies, Breads, or mixed grains EVEN IF LABELED FOR RABBITS. These companies care more about their profit then your animal friend. These snacks might not kill your rabbit buddy right off, but they are NOT appropriate food for a rumment and they will make the poor bugger miserable.
Also Toxic/Problematic : Avocados, Corn, Onions, human foods like cereals, pastas and junk food, Rhubarb, Mosses, Nuts & Seeds.
So, as I mentioned before, Thunder and I did not have the greatest start- So I gave that bunny toys to play with, and talked quietly and constantly whenever i’m around him so i dont startle him to much. It wasn’t long and he was letting me pet him. Only on and around the ears, but he seems to really look forward to his one on one time. I think for only having him since October of last year, that its a pretty good start. One of these days I may even be able to lug him around, but i’m not really counting on it any time super soon. I know he doesn’t really “talk” to the alpacas, but I’d like to think that they enjoy eachother’s company.
Rabbits shed four times a year- they have two heavy sheds, one at the end of winter and one at the end of summer, and then two lighter molts in between. With fiber rabbits, such as angora, it is important to help them comb out their shedding hair so they don’t eat to much of it and cause a blockage in their digestive tracts. I just use a regular little black comb, and run it down his body and back a couple times. He really likes the grooming. He’s not full angora, so i’m not really doing it for the fiber either, but I feel like it certainly helps his quality of life.
Also, check them over like you would any other animal in your life. Are their eyes bright, full of life and clean? Do they have a clean bum? Are their ears clean and free of debris or *gulp* mites? Do their nails need clipping? All these things, and more, need to be taken into account before you commit to the responsibility of owning a rabbit.
And that, my friends, is the basics of bunny care. I still have a good deal to learn, but that is as it is with all endeavors worth undertaking.
Until next time, have a wicked good day.